Transportation of Samples

Wet Specimens


It is important for an accurate result that specimens are adequately fixed.  For large resection specimens we would prefer that the specimen is sliced open to aid fixation prior to being sent to us. 

To prevent spillages in the barrels, it is essential that the specimens are individually packed in sealed plastic bags and that absorbent material is placed in the base of the barrel, (we will supply transportation barrels).

When submitting wet specimens, request forms should be packed in the barrels but in a separate plastic bag from the specimens. Please also include a 'Cases Submitted to Source BioScience form detailing all specimens - this can be found in the Introduction to Pathology Services you will be issued by Source BioScience.

Under Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations Formaldehyde is classed as a TOXIC SUBSTANCE and as such must be treated with care.

We require to be advised in advance of shipping of any samples which are associated with any potential infection risk and that this infection risk is clearly identified on the request form.

We have a policy of retaining the wet specimens for a minimum of six (6) weeks from receipt of specimen. After this time they will be disposed of unless you request their return. Returning samples to you will incur a small charge to cover courier costs.

Specimens with recognisable foetal parts will be returned for sensitive disposal.

Transportation of Diagnostic Specimens in Formalin

The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Regulations came into force in May 2004. Under its requirements, diagnostic and infectious samples are identified by the United Nations substance identification number UN3373 as diagnostic specimens and are subject to IATA Packing Instruction P650.

"By law, the sender of a package is legally responsible for the appropriate labelling and packaging of its contents"

The information and suggestions below have been prepared following our experiences of specimen transportation, which we trust will be of use to you.

1. The couriers we use for transportation of specimens are licensed to carry a maximum of one litre of formalin per container (i.e. 1 litre of formalin per barrel we will supply transportation barrels).  In the event of a client wishing to send a quantity of specimens that leads to the amount of formalin exceeding 1 litre, the specimens should be packaged into more than one barrel to accommodate the licence requirements.

Some client Trusts have found it preferable to drain off some formalin prior to transportation. Please ensure that the specimen is completely fixed and that should the specimen, for example, adhere to the side of the specimen pot and not remain suspended in the formalin in the pot, it will not dry out i.e. there is sufficient formalin in the specimen pot to maintain a moist environment.

2. Statutory requirements dictate that specimens in formalin should be packaged to meet the following minimum transportation requirements:
a)    The specimen should be in a primary container with a secure screw-top lid
b)    The specimen pot should be placed in an airtight polythene bag relative to the size of the specimen pot.
c)    The 'bagged pot' should then be placed in a second airtight polythene bag - we suggest that all of the specimens in their individual polythene bags should be packaged into one larger polythene bag.

Please note, unless you state otherwise, all pots will be disposed of by Source BioScience.

3. Transportation barrels are supplied with the following external labelling (which has been implemented following consultation with our couriers and in observance of the current transportation laws):
a)    Conveyance labels x 2 (providing details of the chemical contained in the barrel and the UN grade of the transport medium)
b)    Addressee

4. We will supply transportation barrels, absorbent pads (which will absorb up to 2 litres of fluid in the event of a leakage), bubble wrap and cable ties, which should be used to secure the barrel lid during transportation.

5. Any excess space in the barrel should be packed with "filler", for example, bubble wrap.


Pre-prepared Specimens

Correct packaging of all slides is essential to prevent breakages and potential loss during transportation.

Each Source BioScience transport box can hold approximately 30 trays of slides, and each tray can hold a maximum of 9 slides. Please try to place more than one slide per slide tray, to help stabilise the slides in transit.

Please follow the below step by step guide to ensure that your slides reach us securely.

Step 1. Place slides into slide tray.

Step 2. Once all slides have been placed into slide trays, place an empty slide tray on top of the stack, face down, as well as an empty slide tray underneath the stack.

Step 3. Place an elastic band over each end of the stack to secure them in place.

Step 4. Securely wrap the stack of slide trays in bubble wrap, ensuring that each end of the stack is also taped - similarly to wrapping a gift.

Step 5. Insert the wrapped stack into the transport box. You will notice that there is a drawstring within the box. Please ensure that the stack is securely restrained between the drawstring cords.

Step 6. Insert the request cards to accompany the slides into the space provided and secure the transport box ready for shipping.

Step 7. Contact the Source BioScience Courier Department to arrange a courier collection via email ( or via phone on +44 (0)115 973 9049.

Blood Specimens

By law all blood specimens must be sent to Source BioScience within the correct UN3373 packaging. The sender is liable should any incident occur during transit and the correct labelling has not been placed on the specimen.

For CTC cases we can provide you with sampling kits, where we send you the Cell Save vacutainers with appropriate vacutainer holders and needles in an IATA Category B Substance compliant box. All you have to do is draw the blood into the Cell Save tube and post the sample back to us in the same box. These boxes are based on the DGP 1 litre Pathopak boxes and are printed with with our company logo and address, thus minimising potential mis-transportation of these time-dependent samples.

FFPE Block Specimens

Due to their non-hazardous nature, Formulin Fixed Paraffin Embedded (FFPE) blocks can be sent to Source BioScience in a padded envelope. We recommend that all specimens are sent either Royal Mail Signed For or via courier to ensure that the specimen is traceable.

Pre-prepared Specimens

Due to their non-hazardous nature, pre-prepared slides can be sent to Source BioScience within slides trays, slide mailers or slide holders, securely fastened and wrapped in padding such as bubble wrap, and sent in a padded envelope. We recommend that all specimens are sent either Royal Mail Signed For or via courier to ensure that the specimen is traceable.

Courier Collections

We can organise regular courier collections (e.g. Monday and Wednesday each week) or we can arrange ad-hoc collections when required. Please advise us of your preferred collection arrangements and times. Our courier department is available between the hours of 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

If a regular collection is required we will forward a batch of airway bills or arrange for the courier to bring them when they arrive to uplift the package. One of these airway bills should be adhered to each package sent to Source BioScience. If ad-hoc collections are preferred, we need to be in receipt of your instruction to arrange same-day collection before 12 noon; otherwise same-day collection cannot be guaranteed and may take place the next working day.

Your request should be e-mailed to and an airway bill will be sent to you via return e-mail, which should be printed and adhered to the bag(s) and/or barrel(s) in which specimens are packed.


Reports will be issued by either our Secure Portal Access (SPA) or by fax to an identified and secure fax number dependent upon your requirements.

All slides, blocks and request cards will be returned.